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THE WIZARD OF OZ VICTOR FLEMING RINGU HIDEO NAKATA RASHOMON BONNIE AND CLYDE ARTHUR PENN AKIRA KUROSAWA BOYHOOD RICHARD LINKLATER PULP FICTION QUENTIN TARANTINO THE VERTIGO ALFRED HITCHCOCK MOVIE BOOK THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION FRANK DARABONT BIG IDEAS SIMPLY EXPLAINED SUNSET BOULEVARD BILLY WILDER DR. STRANGELOVE STANLEY KUBRICK THE SEVENTH SEAL INGMAR BERGMAN METROPOLIS FRITZ LANG IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE FRANK CAPRA SOME LIKE IT HOT BILLY WILDER DK LONDON SENIOR EDITORS Sam Atkinson, Georgina Palffy produced for DK by TALL TREE LTD PROJECT ART EDITOR Saffron Stocker EDITORS Rob Colson,Camilla Hallinan, David John, Kieran Macdonald EDITORS Stuart Neilson, Helen Ridge DESIGN Ben Ruocco, Ed Simkins US EDITORS Margaret Parrish, Jane Perlmutter DK DELHI DESIGNER Phil Gamble PROJECT EDITOR Antara Moitra MANAGING EDITOR Gareth Jones SENIOR ART EDITOR Chhaya Sajwan SENIOR MANAGING ART EDITOR Lee Grifﬁths ASSISTANT EDITOR Tejaswita Payal PUBLISHER Liz Wheeler ART EDITORS Tanvi Nathyal, Roohi Rais DEPUTY ART DIRECTOR Karen Self ASSISTANT ART EDITORS Meenal Goel, Priyansha Tuli PUBLISHING DIRECTOR Jonathan Metcalf MANAGING EDITOR Pakshalika Jayaprakesh ART DIRECTOR Phil Ormerod MANAGING ART EDITOR Arunesh Talapatra SENIOR JACKET DESIGNER Mark Cavanagh PRE-PRODUCTION MANAGER Balwant Singh JACKET COORDINATOR Claire Gell DTP DESIGNER Sachin Gupta JACKET DESIGN DEVELOPMENT MANAGER Sophia MTT JACKET DESIGNER Dhirendra Singh PRE-PRODUCTION PRODUCER Dragana Puvacic SENIOR PRODUCER Mandy Inness SENIOR DTP DESIGNER Harish Aggarwal First American Edition, 2016 Published in the United States by DK Publishing 345 Hudson Street New York, New York 10014 Copyright © 2016 Dorling Kindersley Limited, DK a Division of Penguin Random House LLC 16 17 18 19 20 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 001—274827—Jan/2016 All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitt; ed in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book Published in Great Britain by Dorling Kindersley Limited. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress. ISBN 978–1–4654–3799–0 DK books are available at special discounts when purchased in bulk for sales promotions, premiums, fund-raising, or educational use. For details, contact: DK Publishing Special Markets, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York, 10014 or SpecialSales@dk.com. Printed and bound in China MANAGING JACKETS EDITOR Saloni Singh A WORLD OF IDEAS: SEE ALL THERE IS TO KNOW original styling by www.dk.com STUDIO 8 CONTRIBUTORS DANNY LEIGH, CONSULTANT EDITOR KIERAN GRANT Danny Leigh is a journalist who regularly writes about movies for the Financial Times and The Guardian. Since 2010, he has cohosted BBC Television’s longrunning Film program, as well as writing and hosting documentaries for BBC TV and radio. He has also worked in ﬁlm education and programming. Danny has written two novels, The Greatest Gift and The Monsters of Gramercy Park. Kieran Grant is a writer and editor who lives in London. He has written about movies and television for Radio Times, the FILMCLUB website, and various licensed publications, and once traveled in the footsteps of Peter O’Toole’s Lawrence of Arabia for Esquire magazine. He has been in love with British cinema since he ﬁrst saw Black Narcissus on a big screen at university, and is proud to have made a tiny contribution by writing and codirecting The Lights (2015), a short ﬁlm produced in association with the BFI and Film London. LOUIS BAXTER Louis Baxter started watching and writing about movies as a boy, making his way through his parents’ VHS collection and staying up until 3 a.m. to watch horror movies. He started his own movie blog and contributed to many others before studying ﬁlm at Westminster University, London. He has since developed screenplays for a movie company and worked as a freelance writer and critic, specializing in horror movies. JOHN FARNDON John Farndon is a Royal Literary Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge and an author, playwright, composer, and poet. He taught the history of drama at the Actors Studio, studied playwriting at Central School of Speech and Drama, and is now Assessor for new plays for London’s OffWestEnd Theatre Awards. He has also written many international best-sellers such as Do You Think You’re Clever? and translated into English verse the plays of Lope de Vega and the poetry of Alexander Pushkin. DAMON WISE A movie writer since 1987, Damon Wise is a Contributing Editor with Empire magazine and an advisor to the BFI London Film Festival’s Thrill strand. As a journalist, his features, interviews, and reviews have been published in many notable UK magazines and newspapers. In addition to covering set visits and junkets, he is a regular attendee at key international ﬁlm festivals. In 1998, he published his ﬁrst book, Come by Sunday, a biography of British movie star Diana Dors. CONTENTS 10 INTRODUCTION VISIONARIES 1902–1931 20 22 Labor omnia vincit A Trip to the Moon Out of the cradle endlessly rocking Intolerance 24 I must become Caligari! The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 28 What are we waiting for? Battleship Potemkin 30 This song of the Man and his Wife is of no place and every place Sunrise 32 Those who toiled knew nothing of the dreams of those who planned Metropolis 34 35 Has God promised you things? The Passion of Joan of Arc 52 To a new world of gods and monsters! The Bride of Frankenstein 36 Falling in love again, never wanted to The Blue Angel 53 Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 37 If I were you, I’d make a bit of a scene People on Sunday 54 I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore The Wizard of Oz Tomorrow the birds will sing City Lights 60 Everybody has their reasons The Rules of the Game 62 Tomorrow is another day Gone with the Wind 64 You’re wonderful, in a loathsome sort of way His Girl Friday 66 It isn’t enough to tell us what a man did. You’ve got to tell us who he was Citizen Kane 72 Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine Casablanca 76 How dare you call me a ham? To Be or Not to Be 78 It’s hot in here by the stove Ossessione 79 How singularly innocent I look this morning Laura 38 A GOLDEN AGE IN BLACK AND WHITE 1931–1949 46 Don’t want to, but must! M 48 Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question ﬁrst Duck Soup If you say what you’re thinking, I’ll strangle you Steamboat Bill, Jr. 49 50 Don’t be alarmed, ladies and gentlemen, those chains are made of chrome steel King Kong War is declared! Down with monitors and punishment! Zero de Conduite FEAR AND WONDER 1950–1959 108 We all want to forget something, so we tell stories Rashomon 132 When I’m better, we’ll go and look at the trains again Pather Panchali 134 Get me to that bus stop and forget you ever saw me Kiss Me Deadly 135 That’ll be the day 114 I am big. It’s the pictures that got small Sunset Boulevard The Searchers 136 I have long walked by your side The Seventh Seal 116 I have always relied on the kindness of strangers A Streetcar Named Desire 80 84 86 A kick in the rear, if well delivered, is a sure laugh Children of Paradise Children believe what we tell them La Belle et la Bête This is the universe. Big, isn’t it? A Matter of Life and Death 94 98 George, remember no man is a failure who has friends It’s a Wonderful Life I mind my own business, I bother nobody, and what do I get? Trouble The Bicycle Thief It is so difﬁcult to make a neat job of killing people with whom one is not on friendly terms Kind Hearts and Coronets little things The Night of the Hunter 146 What did you do during the uprising? Ashes and Diamonds 122 What’s the ﬁrst thing an actor learns? “The show must go on!” Singin’ in the Rain 148 Well, nobody’s perfect Some Like It Hot 150 Your parents say you’re 126 Let’s go home always lying The 400 Blows 128 When I was a kid, I used to see men go off on these kind of jobs—and not come back The Wages of Fear 129 But if we don’t use your device against Godzilla, what are we going to do? Godzilla REBEL REBEL 1960–1974 160 You are the ﬁrst woman on the ﬁrst day of creation La Dolce Vita 166 Don’t use the brakes. Cars 130 Just wait until you see your mother. She’s never looked so radiant All That Heaven Allows 100 The world doesn’t make any heroes outside of your stories The Third Man will you love me? Vertigo 118 It’s a hard world for Tokyo Story 88 140 If I do what you tell me, 131 I don’t think that I want to learn that way Rebel Without a Cause are made to go, not to stop À bout de soufﬂe 168 That’s what all these loony laws are for, to be broken by blokes like us Saturday Night and Sunday Morning 170 I have never stayed so long anywhere Last Year at Marienbad 172 This is the story of a man marked by an image from his childhood La jetée 173 Guy, I love you. You smell of gasoline The Umbrellas of Cherbourg 174 There’s gold in the sea beyond Black God, White Devil 176 Gentlemen, you can’t ﬁght in here. This is the War Room! Dr. Strangelove 196 They see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ’em Easy Rider 198 Are you fond of meat? Le Boucher 200 Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me The Godfather 206 That man is a head taller than me. That may change Aguirre, the Wrath of God 208 The guests are here, sir The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie 210 Did you really see her? 180 I can’t seem to stop singing wherever I am The Sound of Music 182 It’s difﬁcult to start a revolution The Battle of Algiers 188 Who wants to be an angel? Chelsea Girls Don’t Look Now 214 You can talk to him whenever you want. Just close your eyes and call him The Spirit of the Beehive 216 You know what happens to nosy fellows? Chinatown 189 Let’s see the sights! Playtime 190 This here’s Miss Bonnie Parker. I’m Clyde Barrow. We rob banks Bonnie and Clyde ANGELS AND MONSTERS 1975–1991 228 You’re gonna need a bigger boat Jaws 232 There’s some questions got answers and some haven’t Picnic at Hanging Rock 234 Someday a real rain will come Taxi Driver 240 I lurve you, you know? I loave you. I luff you. Two ‘F’s Annie Hall 242 The Force is strong with this one Star Wars 243 You still don’t understand what you’re dealing with, do you? Alien 244 It’s so quiet out here. It 222 And we’ll buy ourselves a little piece of heaven Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is the quietest place in the world Stalker 248 You have to have good men. Good men, all of them Das Boot 192 I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that 2001: A Space Odyssey 250 I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe Blade Runner 194 We’re gonna stick together, just like it used to be The Wild Bunch 256 I can’t ﬁgure out if you’re a detective or a pervert Blue Velvet 258 Why am I me, and why not you? Wings of Desire 282 I’m not sure I agree with you one hundred percent on your police work there, Lou Fargo 262 I thought this only happened in the movies Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown 284 We’ve all lost our children The Sweet Hereafter 285 I miss my father 263 Being happy isn’t all that great Sex, Lies, and Videotape 264 Today’s temperature’s gonna rise up over 100 degrees Do the Right Thing 312 You don’t know me, but I know you The Lives of Others Central Station 314 You’ll see that life 286 Here’s to the man who killed my sister Festen isn’t like fairy tales Pan’s Labyrinth 318 This is our destiny 288 Everyone’s fear takes Slumdog Millionaire on a life of its own Ringu 320 This box is full of stuff 265 She has the face of Buddha 290 A sword by itself rules and the heart of a scorpion Raise the Red Lantern nothing. It only comes alive in skilled hands Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon SMALL WORLD 1992–PRESENT 270 The truth is you’re the weak. And I’m the tyranny of evil men Pulp Fiction is happening around me. And it scares me Three Colors: Red 278 Get busy living, or get busy dying The Shawshank Redemption 280 To inﬁnity, and beyond! Toy Story 281 It’s not how you fall that matters. It’s how you land La Haine 322 If I die, what a beautiful death! Man on Wire 296 You don’t remember your name? Spirited Away 323 I’d like to ask you something, Father The White Ribbon 298 I like to look for things no-one else catches Amélie 300 What an extraordinary 276 I feel something important that almost killed me The Hurt Locker 324 Everyone pays for the things they do Once Upon a Time in Anatolia stance! Lagaan 326 So, what do you like 302 It all began with the forging of the Great Rings The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 304 You need more than guts to be a good gangster. You need ideas City of God 310 Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone Oldboy about being up here? Gravity 327 We’re all just winging it Boyhood 328 DIRECTORY 344 INDEX 352 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS INTRODU CTION 12 INTRODUCTION T his book describes, discusses, and pays tribute to some of the movies that best capture the wonder of cinema. The movies gathered here are those that the authors feel, in the imprecise way of these things, to have had the most seismic impact on both cinema and the world. The journey starts in 1902, when Parisian showman Georges Méliès unveiled the latest in the series of short silent movies with which he had been entertaining his countrymen. It was a romp through space called A Trip to the Moon (Le voyage dans la lune), and it was a huge and instant success—not just in France but across the world. (Sadly for Méliès, much of that success was due to the movie No matter where the cinema goes, we cannot afford to lose sight of its beginnings. Martin Scorsese I don’t know yet what I’m going to tell them. It’ll be pretty close to the truth. Philip Marlowe / The Big Sleep being incessantly pirated by rivals.) Its popularity did more than any other movie of the time to secure the movie as the premier art form of the age. None before it had been as spectacular; none had such an intricate storyline. Trains, panic, and hype By the time Méliès was making his lunar adventure, cinema had already been established as a slightly disreputable pastime, to be enjoyed at theaters and fairgrounds. To ﬁnd its true beginnings, it is necessary to step back further— to Paris again, but this time with two showmen in the spotlight. The pair, brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière, had their moment in 1896. That was when, after holding largescale screenings of their movies the year before, they ﬁrst showed the French public L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat—also known as The Arrival of a Train. It was a mere 50 seconds of footage in which, as the title suggests, a steam train entered La Ciotat station, shot from the adjacent platform. The sight sent all those watching ﬂeeing in panic, convinced they were about to be mowed down by the speeding locomotive—or at least that’s the story that circulated after the event. The exact truth has been lost to time, but either the Lumières had quickly mastered the new art form’s ability to make the screen feel like life, or they had a stunning knack for promotional hype. Perhaps it doesn’t matter either way—both those skills have a central place in the story of cinema. But it may be necessary to step back further still. After all, before the Lumière brothers sent their audience bolting in terror, plenty of others had pioneered movies. There should be a tip of the hat to US inventor Thomas Edison, who had screened movies of boxing cats and men sneezing to individual customers a couple of years before the Lumières, and to English photographer Eadweard Muybridge, whose 1880s studies of humans and animals in motion were a vital preface to the moving picture. INTRODUCTION 13 Telling stories In fact, the story of movie arguably stretches back to prehistoric times, to human ancestors hunched around a ﬁre as one among them used the light to cast shadows on the wall and illustrate tales of fearsome beasts or unlikely heroism. When the audience settle into their seats for an insanely expensive, effects-fueled blockbuster on a towering IMAX screen, they’re back around that ﬁre. Movie in the 21st century is still a telling of stories with words and images, bringing those images to believable life. This book is an attempt to build a narrative of movie history out of the movies themselves, taking a tour of a hundred or so movies from Méliès on through the next century and beyond. Each entry discusses where a movie came from, maps its inspiration and how it was made, documents the men and women whose talent shaped it, and details the ripples of inﬂuence it sent out. It is a story that crosses time. In the silent age, the ﬁrst men and women explored the possibilities of moving pictures. From there, the story slips into the 1930s and 1940s, the gilded years when cinemas stood on every main street and movies were beloved slabs of mass appeal; the age of movie stars such as Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart. In the 1950s, ﬁlmmakers from Europe, India, and Japan created a string of masterpieces that still receive acclaim to this day; this was the time of Henri-Georges Clouzot, Akira Kurosawa, Yasujirô Ozu, Nicholas Ray, and Satyajit Ray. A new generation took hold in the 1960s and 1970s, and broke the established molds. And then the story of cinema arrives in the present, where movies are made with technology that would have been the stuff of science ﬁction even 10 years ago, whole worlds spun into being at the push of a button. Blissful immersion The beauty of movies is that every individual has a different way of looking at them, and a different route into loving them. As a writer I live now in a world of ghosts, a prisoner in my dreams. Antonius Block / The Seventh Seal Each picture has some sort of rhythm, which only the director can give it. Fritz Lang and movie journalist, this book’s consultant has spent much of his adult life in cinemas seeking out movies that can give him that feeling of blissful immersion he was hooked on as a child: “I sit while the lights dim and I’m the seven-yearold who yelped with laughter at Harpo Marx on a rigged-up screen at a friend’s birthday party; or who escaped a family Christmas at 10 to switch on the old TV set upstairs, and found that Citizen Kane was playing; or whose mind was comprehensively blown at 14 by the dark, unnerving movies of David Lynch. Those moments live on every time I see a ﬁlm.” A couple of decades after A Trip to the Moon, with a luckless Méliès soon to ﬁnd himself selling ❯❯ 14 INTRODUCTION We can’t help identifying with the protagonist. It’s coded in our movie-going DNA. Roger Ebert trinkets at Montparnasse train station station, the youthful medium was given a nickname that still ﬁts today: the “Seventh Art,” after architecture, painting, music, sculpture, dance, and poetry. Its author was Ricciotto Canudo, an Italian scholar. To Canudo, the power of the movies was that they brought each of the great art forms of the past together into one—to watch movies was to experience all six of the older art forms at once. Movies evolve So many years later, the sheer sensory rush of the movies is still enough to overwhelm the audience, in the very best sense of the word. It’s hard to imagine the creak and crackle of cinema’s early years drawing a viewer into the screen the way a movie does now—but as the Lumières’ train movie shows, movies could make audiences take them as real from the start. Charting how the movies have evolved as an art form is one of the great joys of being a movie lover. Sometimes the advances may be obvious: the momentous lurches from silence to sound, and from black and white to color. Elsewhere, the revolutions were subtler, as the crafts of ﬁlmmaking—cinematography, editing—took on lives of their own. The wider historical context in which movies were made also needs to be considered—when you talk about movies, you’re never just talking about movies. Once you dive into the history of movies, you can’t help dealing with history in general. Look at the last century of movies and you see real life running through it like the rings of a tree. Purely as cinema, it is hard to overstate the impact of Godzilla, the movie monster who terrorized Tokyo Bay in 1954—and what was Godzilla but Japan’s nuclear trauma made scaly ﬂesh? You don’t need to be a movie lover to quote a line from Some Like It Hot (“Nobody’s perfect!”)—but how different a movie would it have been had its Austrian-born director, Billy Wilder, not been forced, like so many other European ﬁlmmakers, to ﬂee to the US as the Nazis took power? The Russian Revolution, the Cold War, the hippie era, feminism, the computer age—every major moment in world history is up there on screen somewhere. All this in a medium that began in the fairground, one step from the circus, and has spent much of its existence as an excuse for young couples to sit together in the dark. That what was happening on the screen ascended to such glorious entertainment was unlikely enough. That it became art is perhaps even more extraordinary. A communal experience In many ways, it is their contradictions that make the movies what they are. How else If we’re looking for a shark, we’re not gonna ﬁnd him on the land. Hooper / Jaws INTRODUCTION 15 Art, that’s special. What can you bring to it that nobody else can? Mr. Turlington / Boyhood to explain the effect they have on their audiences? When a viewer falls for a movie, it can feel like it has been made for them and them alone, like a hand extending from the screen. And yet, if you have ever watched a really great comedy in the middle of a packed cinema, or ﬂinched to a horror alongside two hundred others doing exactly the same, you will know that movies are meant to be watched in a crowd, that cinema grew up as an experience to be shared with others. Over the years, movies have been viewed in many different ways. At ﬁrst, they were novelties, cheap dollops of sensation. Then they were impossibly glamorous moments of escapism whose stars glittered in pristine black and white. They evolved into profound accounts of the human condition, made by great auteurs. Today, they are often vastly expensive spectacles designed to make still more money for studios and corporations. They make you feel that you’ve slipped behind the eyes of the people on screen, the whole thing not unlike a dream or an act of hypnosis, until you stumble back out into the light, maybe understanding something new about yourself, maybe just aching from laughing so hard. A world of choice Some of the movies in this book were adored by critics; others were pure crowd-pleasers. Quite a few were neither, ﬂops that later generations then realized were masterpieces. Genre doesn’t come into it. Thrillers rub shoulders with Westerns, romance with neorealism, and they all have to make room for the occasional musical. Language and nationality are no concern either. Hollywood is well represented—although many see it as a dirty word, the true movie lover knows how many good things Tinseltown has produced over the years. But there has always been a big world beyond Beverly Hills, and no worthwhile book about movies could ignore that. The White Ribbon (2009) deserves its place every bit as much as Jaws (1975). There will, of course, be both omissions and inclusions that will puzzle each reader. Part of the beauty of cinema is that no two opinions on movies are ever quite the same. If this were just a list of the favorites of the consultant and authors, it would deviate in places from the list that follows. You might think the job of selection would get easier if the criterion were “greatness,” but really, that’s just as subjective. Rather, this book chooses its movies as an atlas of inﬂuence, a collection of landmarks, and the hope is that, if a reader’s own best-loved movie is missing, there will be others that make up for it. And also that there will be at least one movie that readers will choose to watch for the ﬁrst time. ■ When you clean them up, when you make movies respectable, you kill them. Pauline Kael VISIONA 1902–1931 RIES 18 INTRODUCTION The French Lumière brothers shoot the 46-second short La Sortie des usines Lumière à Lyon. In Charlie Chaplin’s second movie, Kid Auto Races at Venice, the character the Tramp appears for the ﬁrst time. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a disturbing German Expressionist classic, reﬂects its authors’ experiences in World War I. 1894 1914 1920 F. W. Murnau’s unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, titled Nosferatu, is released. It is nearly destroyed following a lawsuit. 1922 1902 1916 1920 1922 Georges Méliès’s A Trip to the Moon sets a new benchmark for high production values and special effects. D. W. Grifﬁth’s 3.5-hour epic Intolerance is an early Hollywood blockbuster movie. Buster Keaton stars in his ﬁrst full-length comedy, The Saphead. The Toll of the Sea is the ﬁrst Technicolor movie to be put out in general release. M ovies are so much a part of today’s culture that it is hard to imagine a time when they weren’t there at all. It’s hard, too, to appreciate the awe felt by the public of the 1890s at seeing moving pictures for the ﬁrst time, as ghostly ﬁgures came to life before their eyes. From a 21st-century viewpoint, however, the real shock is how far those “movies” changed in the next three decades—quickly evolving into gorgeously vivid feature movies. Magic on screen For the early ﬁlmmakers, there were no masters to learn from. Some had a background in theater, others in photography. Either way, they were breaking new ground, and none more so than Georges Méliès. As soon as this sometime magician had begun entertaining the French public with movies, he looked for ways to make them more splendid and spectacular. In America, too, visionaries were at work. There, cinema thrived thanks to the likes of Edwin S. Porter, a former electrician who ended his 1903 feature The Great Train Robbery with a gunman turning toward the camera and appearing to ﬁre at the audience. Other ﬁlmmakers had grander plans. A few years later, Porter was approached by a ﬂedgling playwright who hoped to sell him a script. Porter turned down the script, but hired the young man as an actor—and that same young man, the gifted and still controversial D. W. Grifﬁth, later become a director himself, helping to father the modern blockbuster. Movies as art Although the pioneers clustered in France and America, it was in Germany that the movies ﬁrst became art. In the aftermath of World War I, a country mired in political and economic chaos gave rise to a string of masterpieces whose inﬂuence still echoes today. The silent era was ﬁlled with some of the most glorious, pristine ﬁlmmaking that cinema would ever know: the works of Robert Wiene, F. W. Murnau, and Fritz Lang. Yet even then, it wasn’t just directors who deserved the credit—take the giant Karl Freund, a huge man with an equally vast knowledge of cameras, who would become a master cinematographer, strapping the camera to his body and setting it on bicycles to revolutionize how a movie could look. VISIONARIES 19 The Thief of Bagdad stars Douglas Fairbanks and a cast of thousands in an early and lavishly produced swashbuckling adventure fantasy. Alfred Hitchcock’s ﬁrst thriller, The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, about the hunt for Jack the Ripper, is a commercial hit in the UK. 1924 1927 1925 Sergei Eisenstein’s technical masterpiece Battleship Potemkin is released to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1905 Russian Revolution. Painters were also drawn to the screen, and in 1929, the famed Surrealist Salvador Dalí worked with a young movie fanatic named Luis Buñuel on the eternally strange Un Chien Andalou; Dalí then stepped away from movies, but Buñuel continued making iconoclastic movies into the 1970s. There were revolutionaries of the political kind, too. In the Soviet Union, cinema was embraced as the art form of the people. Movies became key to the global battle for hearts and minds. 1927 1930 1927 Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is one of the ﬁrst full-length scienceﬁction movies, set in a technologically advanced dystopian future. 1929 1931 The ﬁrst Academy Awards ceremony is held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Charlie Chaplin deﬁes the talkie revolution with his hit silent classic City Lights. Charlie Chaplin and I would have a friendly contest: Who could do the feature ﬁlm with the least subtitles? Buster Keaton Hollywood begins Back in America, the cinematic hustlers became the ﬁrst studio bosses of Hollywood. They built their businesses on stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and Greta Garbo. Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel is released in Germanand English-language versions, and makes Marlene Dietrich a worldwide star. The Jazz Singer is the ﬁrst movie with synchronized sound dialogue. It mixes title cards with short sound sequences. The biggest stars were clowns, and of all the wonders of the silent age, it is the comedies that most reliably delight today. In Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, Hollywood found two true geniuses who had honed their craft in American vaudeville and British music hall and now worked their magic on camera. Masters of mime, slapstick, and pathos, they could make audiences laugh just by looking at them. They were also meticulous ﬁlmmakers with a taste for innovation. If one person deﬁned the early movies, it was the phenomenally famous and endlessly ambitious Chaplin. By the end of this era, sound arrived—it was 1927 when Al Jolson declared in The Jazz Singer: “You ain’t heard nothing yet!” But Chaplin’s love for silent movies was such that he kept making them, and in 1931, with City Lights, he made one of the very greatest. By then, he had already helped the movies claim their rightful place, where they still are today—in the center of people’s lives. ■ 20 LABOR OMNIA VINCIT A TRIP TO THE MOON / 1902 IN CONTEXT GENRE Science ﬁction, fantasy DIRECTOR Georges Méliès WRITERS Georges Méliès, from novels by Jules Verne and H. G. Wells (all uncredited) STARS Georges Méliès, Bleuette Bernon, François Lallement, Henri Delannoy BEFORE 1896 Méliès’s short movie Le Manoir du Diable (The Devil’s Castle) is often credited as the ﬁrst horror movie. 1899 Cinderella is the ﬁrst of Méliès’s movies to use multiple scenes to tell a story. AFTER 1904 Méliès adapts another Jules Verne story with Whirling the Worlds, a fantasy about a group of scientists who ﬂy a steam train into the sun. A s its title suggests, the 12-minute-long movie A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la Lune) is a fantastical account of a lunar expedition. A group of scientists meets, a huge gun is constructed, and astronauts are blasted to the moon, where they fall into the hands of the moon-dwelling Selenites. Chorus girls line up to ﬁre the Monster Gun that will blast a spaceship to the moon. Méliès’s overblown theatrical style keeps the action more absurd than heroic. They are brought before the King of the Selenites, but manage to escape. They return to Earth, where a parade is held in their honor and an alien is put on display. Magic tricks Some pioneers of the cinema, such as the French Lumière Brothers, saw the new medium as a scientiﬁc breakthrough, a means of documenting reality. Frenchman Georges Méliès, the director of A Trip to the Moon, however, recognized it as a new way of performing magic tricks. VISIONARIES 21 What else to watch: The Man with the Rubber Head (1901) ■ A Trip to Mars (1910) The Invisible Man (1933) ■ First Men in the Moon (1964) ■ Hugo (2011) Méliès’s short movies were simply entertainments, created for the sensation seekers who roamed the boulevards of ﬁn-de-siècle Paris. Filled with chorus girls, ghosts, and Mephistophelian devils, the movies started out as recordings of simple magic acts and evolved into fanciful stories realized through innovative and audacious camera trickery— cinema’s ﬂedgling special effects. By 1902, Méliès was ready to pull off his biggest illusion: to take his audiences to the moon and back. Sci-ﬁ and satire A Trip to the Moon was the ﬁrst movie to be inspired by the popular “scientiﬁc romances” of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, and is widely acknowledged as the world’s ﬁrst science-ﬁction movie. But while it is true that Méliès conjured up the basic iconography of sci-ﬁ cinema—the sleek rocket ship, the moon hurtling toward the camera, and the little green men—the director did not set out to invent a genre. His aim was to present a mischievous satire of Victorian values, a boisterous comedy lampooning the reckless industrial revolutionaries of Western Europe. In Méliès’s hands, men of science are destructive fools. Led by Professor Barbenfouillis (played by Méliès himself), they squabble and jump When they reach the moon, the scientists discover a strange land. Their arrogant attitude toward the moon people has led the movie to be seen as an anti-imperialist satire. ■ Metropolis (1927, pp.32–33) ■ Georges Méliès Director Méliès’s early short movies experimented with the theatrical techniques and special effects he had mastered as a stage magician. He used the camera to make people and objects disappear, reappear, or transform completely, and devised countless technical up and down like unruly children, and when they land on the lunar surface, their rocket stabs the Man in the Moon in his eye. They cause chaos in the kingdom of the Selenites—whom they treat as mindless savages—and they only make it home by accident. A statue of Barbenfouillis appears in the ﬁnal scene—a caricature of innovations. Méliès wrote, directed, and starred in more than 500 motion pictures, pioneering the genres of science ﬁction, horror, and suspense. Key movies 1896 The Devil’s Castle 1902 A Trip to the Moon 1904 Whirling the Worlds 1912 The Conquest of the Pole a pompous old man, resembling one of Méliès’s political cartoons. Its inscription reads “Labor omnia vincit” (Work conquers all), which, in light of the chaos that has preceded it, takes on a decidedly ironic tone. ■ 22 OUT OF THE CRADLE ENDLESSLY ROCKING INTOLERANCE / 1916 IN CONTEXT GENRE Historical epic DIRECTOR D. W. Grifﬁth WRITERS D. W. Grifﬁth, Anita Loos STARS Vera Lewis, Ralph Lewis, Constance Talmadge, Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh, Robert Harron BEFORE 1914 Italian director Giovanni Pastrone makes Cabiria, an early feature-length epic. 1915 Grifﬁth’s The Birth of a Nation is the ﬁrst US feature movie, but sparks controversy with its racist content. AFTER 1931 Grifﬁth’s ﬁnal movie, The Struggle (his second sound feature), is a box-ofﬁce failure. It is a semiautobiographical tale of a battle with alcoholism. O ne of the most inﬂuential movies ever made, Intolerance is truly epic in its scope, with elaborate sets and countless extras. It was not the ﬁrst movie to use techniques such as camera tracking and closeups, but director D. W. Grifﬁth used them with such mastery that many regard him as the father of modern moviemaking. The movie was born in controversy. Grifﬁth’s previous movie in 1915, The Clansman, came to be called The Birth of a Nation and was the ﬁrst full-length feature movie made in the US. Its innovative techniques foreshadowed those used in Intolerance. It was a hit, but was condemned by many for its overt racism, glorifying slavery and the Ku Klux Klan. Its commercial success, however, bankrolled the cast of thousands required to make Intolerance, which lost as much at the box ofﬁce as The Clansman had made. Some critics describe Intolerance as an apology for the earlier movie, but there is nothing apologetic in its ambition and scale. Four-part drama Four stories of intolerance, spanning three millennia, interweave through the movie, each with a different D. W. Grifﬁth Director Born on a farm in Kentucky in 1875, David Llewelyn Wark Grifﬁth was 10 when his father died, leaving the family in poverty. After several years of stage work, he got an acting job for a movie company in 1908, and was soon making his own movies, some of the ﬁrst ever made in Hollywood. He set up his own company to make The Birth of a Nation, whose racism caused protests and riots. Grifﬁth made about 500 movies in total, but his career entered into a downward spiral after Intolerance. He died in 1948. Key movies 1909 A Corner of Wheat 1915 The Birth of a Nation 1916 Intolerance 1919 Broken Blossoms VISIONARIES 23 What else to watch: Cleopatra (1917) ■ Broken Blossoms (1919) ■ Sunrise (1927, pp.30–31) Modern Times (1936) ■ Gone with the Wind (1939, pp.62–63) ■ Ben-Hur (1959) ■ Metropolis (1927, pp.32–33) ■ The central courtyard in Babylon was recreated with a life-size set. More than 3,000 extras were employed for Belshazzar’s lavish feast. ﬁlm tint. They are linked by the ever-present image of a mother, played by Lillian Gish, rocking a cradle to symbolize the passing generations. Captioned “Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,” it suggests that nothing changes. The ﬁrst of the four stories focuses on the conﬂict at the fall of ancient Babylon, fueled by the intolerant devotees of two warring religions. The second tells how, after the wedding at Cana, Christ is driven to his death by intolerance. The third tale depicts the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacres in France in 1572, when Catholics massacred the Protestant Huguenots. The ﬁnal story is of two young lovers who are caught up in a conﬂict between ruthless capitalists and moralistic striking workers. Grifﬁth is clearly on the side of the lovers, who are hounded by the type of social reformers he clearly equates with those who protested against The Clansman. The four stories are intercut with increasing rapidity as the movie approaches its climax. Racing chariots in one story cut into speeding trains and cars in another; this effect was achieved almost entirely in the edit, since Grifﬁth shot the sections chronologically. To some critics, the effect is almost symphonic, while others ﬁnd it tiresome. But there is no doubt that this crosscutting and use of the edit was to prove hugely inﬂuential. Other technical innovations we now take for granted include dissolves between scenes and the fade-out. Most signiﬁcant of all, perhaps, was the close-up. The full-length shots of earlier movies called for an exaggerated, pantomime style of acting to convey the story. But as Grifﬁth said, “The close-up enabled us to reach real acting, restraint, acting that is a duplicate of real life.” ■ Jesus drags his cross through jeering crowds in the movie’s biblical story. I MUST BECOME CALIGARI! THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI / 1920 26 THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI IN CONTEXT GENRE Horror DIRECTOR Robert Wiene WRITERS Hans Janowitz, Carl Mayer STARS Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Friedrich Fehér, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, Lil Dagover BEFORE 1913 The Weapons of Youth is Wiene’s ﬁrst movie, now lost. AFTER 1924 The Hands of Orlac, an Expressionist movie by Wiene, is later remade twice and inspires many horror movies. 1925 Wiene directs a silent movie of Richard Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier. Strauss conducts a live orchestra for the premiere, but a tour of the US is canceled with the arrival of sound movie. I have never been able since to trust the authoritative power of an inhuman state gone mad. Hans Janowitz T he Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has been described as the ﬁrst feature-length horror movie, and it is easy to see its legacy in modern cinema, but not for the obvious reasons. Its ingenious set design—still avant-garde in its use of palpably unreal, theatrical environments—is the most striking of its features. Yet it is other, more subtle elements of Robert Wiene’s groundbreaking psychological thriller that have become ﬁxtures of movie storytelling. The “unreliable narrator” had long been a staple of literature, since the time of the ancient Greek dramatist Aristophanes, but it had yet to be used in cinema. Caligari pioneers the use of this device in the character of Francis (Friedrich Fehér). The story Francis tells starts, innocently enough, with a love triangle, as two friends compete for the affections of the same woman— but of course, all is not as it seems. The movie’s screenwriters, Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer, originally wrote the story as an indictment of Germany’s government during World War I, The somnambulist Cesare, who, the viewer is told, has been in a sleeping trance for 23 years, is roused by Caligari and fed sitting in his cofﬁn. with Caligari as a straightforward villain causing an innocent to sleepwalk into committing murder. As the movie neared production, however, the story morphed into something more complex, leading to possibly another ﬁrst for cinema: the twist ending. Opening the cabinet Janowitz and Mayer were inspired by an 11th-century story about a conﬁdence-trickster monk who exerted a strange inﬂuence over a man in his keep. In their screenplay, the monk became a doctor, whom Francis and his love rival Alan (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski) encounter at a village fairground. Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) ﬁrst appears as a fairground showman who opens his so-called cabinet— a cofﬁn by any other name—to reveal the ghostly, heavy-lidded Cesare (Conrad Veidt) lying within. VISIONARIES 27 What else to watch: Nosferatu (1922, p.330) pp.32–33) ■ Dracula (1931) ■ Spellbound (1945) Caligari, Cesare’s “master,” claims that his charge “knows all secrets” and invites the audience to ask a question. A visibly shaken Alan asks, “How long shall I live?”—to which Cesare replies, “Until dawn.” And here we see another example of a horror-movie device lifted from countless tales: the fool who tempts fate. The unfortunate Alan is found dead the following morning. Expressionist style The look and style of the movie were heavily inﬂuenced by the legendary Max Reinhardt, director of the Deutsches Theatre in Berlin. His antirealist style, itself inspired by the Expressionist art movement of the early 20th century, embraced the artiﬁciality of the theater set and manipulated darkness rather than light to create swathes of chiaroscuro, establishing an atmosphere of mystery and unease. Wiene carefully employs lighting to suggest that this is simply an outlandish melodrama—a notion reinforced by the frequent use of ■ ■ The Last Laugh (1924) ■ Secrets of a Soul (1926) ■ Metropolis (1927, The Third Man (1949, pp.100–03) ■ The White Ribbon (2009, p.323) sinister close-ups, mostly of the seemingly insane Caligari, to persuade his audience that they are watching a straightforward hero-and-villain story. Yet when it is revealed that no character’s perspective may be taken at face value, suddenly the strange, distorted angles and backdrops of the production design begin to make sense. They are an integral part of the story and not simply an unsettling style; the sets by Walter Reimann, Walter Röhrig, and Hermann Warm seem to portray a whole world gone mad. One reason that The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari has endured is that, anticipating Hitchcock’s Psycho, it is the ﬁrst movie to take audiences inside the mind of a madman. Its resonant horror stems from our fear of the mask of sanity that even the most disturbed individuals can wear in order to deceive those around them. ■ Robert Wiene Director Robert Wiene was born in 1873 in Breslau. In 1913, he wrote and directed a short movie, The Weapons of Youth, which was the ﬁrst of 20 features and shorts he would make in the silent era. After a proliﬁc movie career in Germany, Wiene ﬂed the Nazi regime in the early 1930s and moved to France. He died of cancer during the shooting of his last movie, Ultimatum (1938), which was completed, uncredited, by fellow émigré Robert Siodmak. Key movies 1913 The Weapons of Youth 1920 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1923 Raskolnikow 1924 The Hands of Orlac Cesare carries away Francis’s sweetheart, Jane, through a landscape resembling the aftermath of World War I, which had ended just two years earlier. 28 WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR? BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN / 1925 IN CONTEXT GENRE Historical drama DIRECTOR Sergei Eisenstein WRITER Nina Agadzhanova STARS Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky, Grigori Aleksandrov BEFORE 1925 Eisenstein’s ﬁrst fulllength feature, Strike, tells the story of a 1903 walkout in a Russian factory and the repression of the workers. AFTER 1928 Eisenstein’s October (Ten Days That Shook the World) uses a documentary style to tell the story of the 1917 October Revolution. 1938 In a more restrictive political climate, Eisenstein retreats to distant history with Alexander Nevsky. S ergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin was commissioned by the Soviet authorities to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1905 Revolution, when Russian sailors mutinied against their naval commanders and protested in the port of Odessa (now in Ukraine). The result was a movie that revolutionized cinema. Ninety years later, it is rare that an action movie does not owe it something. The opening scenes are historically accurate. The cooks did take issue with the maggot-ridden View it in the same way that a group of artists might view and study a Rubens or a Raphael. David O. Selznik This was one of the ﬁrst movie posters by Dutch designer Dolly Rudeman. It depicts a Cossack soldier with one of his victims at his feet. Its bold futurist style is typical of 1920s posters in Europe. meat, only to be told that it was ﬁt for consumption. The crew’s spokesman, Quartermaster Grigory Vakulinchuk (Aleksandr Antonov), did call for a boycott and was shot. The crew did turn on their superior ofﬁcers before hoisting a red ﬂag and sailing to Odessa, where there had been ongoing civilian unrest. And Vakulinchuk’s body was put on display, with a note: “This is the body of Vakulinchuk, killed by the commander for telling the truth.” When the sailors reach Odessa, however, Eisenstein’s movie veers into propaganda. While it is true that Tsar Nicholas II took action against the striking citizens of Odessa, this did not happen at the VISIONARIES 29 What else to watch: Strike (1925) ■ October (1928) The Untouchables (1987) ■ JFK (1991) ■ Man With a Movie Camera (1929) ■ A carriage careers down the steps past and over the bodies of the dead and dying. The baby’s mother has been shot: as she fell, she nudged it forward, starting its headlong descent. Odessa Steps. Now known as the Potemkin Stairs, they were then just the Boulevard Steps, or Giant Staircase. The director made full use of the 200 steps to show the tsarist troops advancing. The crowds’ celebration with the sailors is cut short by a title card that says simply, “And suddenly.” The scenes of carnage that follow have lost none of their power. Nobody is safe from the advancing troops, ﬁlmed from a low angle and often tightly cropped: for the director, only their riﬂes needed to be visible. The outraged sailors ﬁre back with shells, before heading off to sea where they are joined in revolt by other sailors. Montage and collision As a history lesson, Battleship Potemkin took liberties, but factual accuracy was never Eisenstein’s concern. It was more important for him to pursue a new cinematic language, which he did by drawing on the experiments in montage pioneered by Soviet movie theorist Lev Kuleshov between 1910 and 1920. For Kuleshov, meaning lay not in individual shots but in the way that the human mind contextualizes them: for example, by using the same image of a man’s face and intercutting it with a bowl of soup, a cofﬁn, and a woman, Kuleshov could conjure up images of hunger, Sergei Eisenstein Director Born in 1898 in Latvia, Sergei Eisenstein started work as a director for theater company Proletkult in Moscow in 1920. His interest in visual theory led to the “Revolution Trilogy” of Strike, Battleship Potemkin, and October. He was invited to Hollywood in 1930, but his projects there stalled. Back in the Soviet Union, he found that the political tide had turned against his “formalist” ideas, to more traditional storytelling. He died in 1948, leaving behind just eight ﬁnished movies. Key movies 1925 Battleship Potemkin 1928 October 1938 Alexander Nevsky grief, and desire. Eisenstein’s belief in montage—although he preferred to use images in “collision” with each other—can be shown by statistics alone: at under 80 minutes, Battleship Potemkin consists of 1,346 shots, when the average movie of the period usually contained around 600. Manipulating emotions Eisenstein’s approach to storytelling still seems radical today. Its juxtaposition of the epic and the intimate virtually rules out the possibility of engaging with the characters on a personal level, and in that way it is indeed perfectly communist. Even Vakulinchuk, the hero and martyr of the piece, is seen only as a symbol of humanity to be contrasted with the faceless tsarist troops. The most famous scene—a baby in a carriage tumbling down the steps—is the ideal symbol of the movie’s manipulative grip on our helpless emotions. ■ 30 THIS SONG OF THE MAN AND HIS WIFE IS OF NO PLACE AND EVERY PLACE SUNRISE / 1927 IN CONTEXT GENRE Silent drama DIRECTOR F. W. Murnau WRITERS Carl Mayer (screenplay); Hermann Sudermann (short story) STARS George O’Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston, Bodil Rosing BEFORE 1922 Murnau’s Nosferatu helps to deﬁne the horror genre in a nightmarish version of Dracula. AFTER 1927 Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s science-ﬁction classic, also features the spectacle of the modern city. 1930 Murnau’s City Girl tells the story of a ﬂapper falling in love with a farm boy and being rejected by his family. I n 1927, one movie changed the course of cinema history: The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, was the ﬁrst ever feature-length “talkie.” But another song was playing in picture palaces that year, and it was a silent movie. In Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, German director F. W. Murnau attempted to distill a universal human experience into 90 wordless minutes of beautiful monochrome imagery, accompanied only by music and sound effects. At a lakeside village, two clandestine lovers meet under the moonlight. The man (George O’Brien) is an honest country fellow who has been seduced by the vampish woman from the city (Margaret Livingston). She urges him to sell his farm and come with her to pursue a life of excitement in the city. The man is married, however, to his sweet young wife (Janet Gaynor). When he asks the woman: “And my wife?” a sly look comes into his lover’s eyes. “Couldn’t she get drowned?” is the chilling title card. The rural setting, creeping fog, and shifting, spidery shadows of this scene recall Murnau’s other great masterpiece, the archetypal vampire movie Nosferatu. Sunrise looks set to deliver an equally F. W. Murnau Director Born in Germany in 1888, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau fought for his country in the horror of World War I before making a horror of his own: Nosferatu, the ﬁrst movie to be based on Dracula. The Last Laugh proved that Murnau could move his audiences as skillfully as he could terrify them. A highly literate man, Murnau brought Goethe’s Faust to the big screen before moving to Hollywood in 1926. His ﬁrst US movie was Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. He died in a car crash in 1931. Key movies 1922 Nosferatu 1924 The Last Laugh 1927 Sunrise VISIONARIES 31 What else to watch: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920, pp.24–27) ■ Faust (1926) ■ The Lodger (1927) ■ Wings (1927) Street Angel (1928) ■ Man with a Movie Camera (1929) ■ City Lights (1931, pp.38–41) ■ A Star Is Born (1937) sensationalist story of sex, death, violence, and betrayal. But will the man commit murder? With her black bob, sleek satin dress, and smoldering cigarette, the woman from the city embodies the amorality of the metropolis, while the man is a symbol of rustic innocence. The viewer assumes that Sunrise will be a chronicle of corruption; at one point the woman appears devil-like on the man’s shoulder, urging him to sin. The man invites his wife to take a boat ride, but when the moment comes to drown her, he can’t go through with it. The man hesitates, the wife escapes, and when he catches up with her, the pair ﬁnd themselves on a tram bound for the city. Unable to discuss what has happened at the lake for fear of being overheard, they stay on the tram. City awakening This is where Sunrise surprises us. The metropolis has a magical effect on the man and his wife as they spend the day wandering through its vertiginous throng, thrown together in a touching, accidental second courtship. Yet there is still much drama ahead, and more unforgettable sights: crowds through which the camera swoops, street carnivals, Unable to go through with the murder, the man follows his wife to a tram, and they both end up heading for the city. ■ Sunrise was one of the ﬁrst movies with sound effects, but its innovations were largely overlooked. and strange hallucinogenic patterns in the bright lights. Danger, too, will reappear, the past not so easily escaped. And all of it is made with the kind of ambition— Murnau’s “city” was made up of vast, complex, hugely expensive sets—that has led many to see Sunrise as a pinnacle of the silent movies, a beautiful last waltz. Last sunrise Sunrise plays like a montage of the silent era’s greatest hits, a ﬂickering carousel of melodrama, suspense, horror, spectacle, slapstick, and tragedy. The US release was given Murnau’s ﬁlms are gorgeous, and Sunrise is no exception. Its luscious black-and-white photography and sweeping camera moves haven’t aged. Pamela Hutchinson The Guardian a Movietone soundtrack, which added piglet squeals, trafﬁc horns, and other clunky effects, but the movie doesn’t need these to bring its world to life. “Wherever the sun rises and sets,” says the closing title card, “in the city’s turmoil or under the open sky on the farm, life is much the same; sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet.” ■ 32 THOSE WHO TOILED KNEW NOTHING OF THE DREAMS OF THOSE WHO PLANNED METROPOLIS / 1927 IN CONTEXT GENRE Science ﬁction DIRECTOR Fritz Lang WRITERS Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou STARS Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf KleinRogge, Brigitte Helm BEFORE 1922 With Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, Lang and von Harbou introduce the arch-criminal to the big screen for ﬁrst time. 1924 The Nibelungs is Lang and von Harbou’s epic two-part silent fantasy. AFTER 1929 Woman in the Moon is Lang’s next science-ﬁction masterpiece after Metropolis. 1931 M stands for “Murderer” in Lang and von Harbou’s desolate thriller. M any movies have journeyed into the future, and most of them owe a debt to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Made in Germany in 1927, this tale of city life projects itself a hundred years ahead of its time. Mirror image Metropolis is set in 2026, but it is really a warped reﬂection of the era in which it was made. In its striking black-and-white imagery, inﬂuenced by German Expressionism, lie the nightmares of a world in ﬂux. The mechanized horrors of World War I were fresh in the memory, and the Nazis would soon begin their rise to power, proposing totalitarian solutions to Germany’s problems. Lang’s vision of the cityscape of the future was heavily inﬂuenced by the skyscrapers that were being built at the time in New York. Lang often said that the idea for Metropolis came to him on a visit to New York in 1924, and it shows. The American city, with its soaring skyscrapers and views of ant-sized citizens, clearly inspired the ﬁrst science-ﬁction cityscape ever shown on screen. Lang worked with visual-effects pioneer Eugen Schüfftan to create an exaggerated version of Manhattan, combining models of monorails and shining pinnacles with vast clockwork sets, in which the humans operating the machines are little more than cogs. VISIONARIES 33 What else to watch: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920, pp.24–27) ■ The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, p.52) ■ Modern Times (1936) ■ Blade Runner (1982, pp.250–55) ■ Brazil (1985, p.340) ■ The Matrix (1999) ■ Minority Report (2002) Alfred Abel Actor Born in Leipzig in 1879, Alfred Abel tried his hand at forestry, gardening, art, and business before taking up acting. Moving to Berlin, he worked with stage director Max Reinhardt, who gave him his ﬁrst movie role in 1913. He went on to star in more than 100 silent movies, most famously Metropolis. Always In Metropolis, the architecture of the city reﬂects the rigid structure of its society, whose ruling class, led by Fredersen (Alfred Abel), lives in luxurious towers, while the workers, represented by Maria (Brigitte Helm), are consigned to the sunless slums at ground level and below. The two groups—literally the high-ups and the low-downs—know little of each other, and in the smooth running of the machine city their paths never cross. Only when Fredersen’s privileged son glimpses the worker Maria and falls in love Should I say now that I like Metropolis because something I have seen in my imagination comes true, when I detested it after it was ﬁnished? Fritz Lang elegant, and eschewing ﬂorid gestures, Abel remained in demand in the age of sound, but a brief foray into directing was not a success. He died in 1937, two years after the Nazi regime barred his daughter from acting. Key movies 1922 Dr. Mabuse the Gambler 1927 Metropolis with her does the machine begin to break down, as the two groups— the “mind” and the “hands”—are brought together by the heart. depicted as a malevolent monster, a living, breathing machine incapable of compassion. Maria is duplicated as a Maschinenmensch (“machinehuman”), whose unholy birth would later be imitated by Hollywood in Frankenstein (1931). Mechanization is ultimately a means to deceive, dehumanize, and enslave. Metropolis is often described as the ﬁrst screen dystopia, and in its prediction of a segregated German society, it is bleakly prescient. But Lang’s movie remains optimistic at its core—it believes the human heart can triumph even when our dreams turn into oppressive nightmares, and for all its concerns, it sees a frightening beauty in the world of tomorrow. ■ Technology and terror Lang’s movie revels in cutting-edge special effects, but it doesn’t trust technology with the future of humanity. The 21st-century city is In an Art Deco vision of hell, the Industrial Machine powering the city is seen as a sacriﬁcial temple of Moloch that consumes its workers. 34 IF YOU SAY WHAT YOU’RE THINKING I’LL STRANGLE YOU STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. / 1928 IN CONTEXT GENRE Comedy DIRECTOR Charles Reisner WRITER Carl Harbaugh STARS Buster Keaton, Tom McGuire, Ernest Torrence, Marion Byron BEFORE 1924 Keaton fractures his neck while shooting the pratfalls for Sherlock, Jr. 1926 Keaton’s The General, now considered a classic, ﬂops at the box ofﬁce. AFTER 1928 Steamboat Bill, Jr. is the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie, the ﬁrst Mickey Mouse animation. 1929 Keaton makes his ﬁnal silent movie, Spite Marriage, about a celebrity wife who divorces her humble husband. B uster Keaton was a master of deadpan slapstick. He was born into a vaudeville family and grew up familiar with the demands of physical comedy, which he transferred from stage to screen. Although he didn’t always take a credit as director, he was invariably the mastermind behind the laughs. Today, what impresses most about his movies is their comic precision, and the sophisticated way in which he misleads his audiences. Steamboat Bill, Jr. is typical of the way in which Keaton plays with expectations. Straight to the jokes The movie sets course in almost record time—the grizzled captain of a dilapidated paddle steamer faces competition from a stylish new riverboat on the same day that his long-lost son (Keaton) reappears—and goes straight to the jokes. Keaton uses a slew of visual puns and sight gags even before his character has arrived. When he ﬁnally does appear, Keaton starts a symphony of silliness, playing against Keaton performed his own stunts, many of which, like this building falling on him in Steamboat Bill, Jr., relied on precise timing and positioning to avoid serious injury. type as a fey bohemian, complete with Oxford bags, a tiny ukulele, and a beret, before the movie moves up a notch with a storm. After he has been swept by high winds through a town on a hospital bed, Keaton stands immobile as an entire storefront crashes over his head, perfectly framing him in its top window. The scene—highly dangerous to perform—captures Keaton’s philosophy in a nutshell: “Stuntmen don’t get laughs.” ■ What else to watch: Our Hospitality (1923) ■ Sherlock, Jr. (1924) ■ The Navigator (1924) ■ The General (1926) ■ The Cameraman (1928) VISIONARIES 35 HAS GOD PROMISED YOU THINGS? THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC / 1928 IN CONTEXT GENRE Historical drama DIRECTOR Carl Theodor Dreyer WRITERS Joseph Delteil, Carl Theodor Dreyer STAR Maria Falconetti BEFORE 1917 Falconetti stars in La Comtesse de Somerive, the ﬁrst of her two feature movies. AFTER 1932 Dreyer makes his ﬁrst sound movie with the horror movie Vampyr. 1943 Dreyer’s movie Day of Wrath returns to the theme of witchcraft with a tale of 17th-century persecution. 1957 Otto Preminger adapts George Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan for cinema, starring Jean Seberg in her debut role. T he story of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc), or the Maid of Orleans, has been ﬁlmed several times, mostly as an actionadventure in which she leads an army against English invaders in 15th-century France. But Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer went back to the transcripts of Joan’s trial to create an intimate and emotionally grueling account of her persecution and execution at the hands of the church. By all accounts, the shoot was as grim and punishing as anything depicted on screen, particularly for Maria Falconetti as Joan, who was put through an exhausting ordeal. The director keeps his camera tight on her face, contrasting her tortured expressions with the pinched features of the clerics— all shot in extreme close-up, with no makeup, and harsh lighting. As matters get progressively worse for Joan, the movie keeps the audience inside her tormented world for as long as it can. Even as she is burned at the stake, Dreyer focuses relentlessly on Joan rather than on the attempt to save her. As the director himself once put it, “Nothing in the world can be compared to the human face.” ■ The trial scene was shot in a hugely expensive replica of the ecclesiastical court at Rouen Castle, where the historical Joan was tried. What else to watch: Sunrise (1927, pp.30–31) ■ Vampyr (1932) Day of Wrath (1943) ■ Ordet (1955) ■ Gertrud (1964) ■ 36 FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN NEVER WANTED TO THE BLUE ANGEL / 1930 IN CONTEXT GENRE Comedy drama DIRECTOR Josef von Sternberg WRITERS Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmöller, Robert Liebmann (screenplay); Heinrich Mann (novel) STARS Marlene Dietrich, Emil Jannings BEFORE 1929 Von Sternberg’s ﬁrst talkie is the US crime drama Thunderbolt. AFTER 1930 Von Sternberg and Dietrich team up for a second time with the Hollywood romance Morocco. 1932 Dietrich and von Sternberg reunite for Shanghai Express, a huge box-ofﬁce hit, and the fourth movie of seven the two would make together. M arlene Dietrich’s Lola-Lola, the showgirl of The Blue Angel (Der Blaue Engel), is one of cinema’s most indelible sirens. The movie was banned by the Nazis in 1933, but Hitler, a fan of Dietrich, reputedly kept a private copy. sermon, warning of the dangers of chasing the pleasures of the ﬂesh. Set in Weimar Germany, it tells the tale of Professor Immanuel Rath (Emil Jannings), who gives up his respectable job as a schoolteacher to pursue Lola-Lola, a performer at cabaret club The Blue Angel. Moral message Professor Rath journeys through Lola-Lola’s decadence and sexually the seamy demimonde of show charged ennui are captured in songs business, and when Lola-Lola that made Dietrich famous: Falling rejects him, he ends up a laughing in Love Again became her personal stock: spineless, emasculated, and anthem. Ironically, Josef von powerless, a grotesque shadow of Sternberg’s movie is also a moral his censorious former self. ■ Professor Rath (Emil Jannings, right) becomes a humiliated clown in Lola-Lola’s troupe. He is ridiculed by the audience when the troupe visits his home town. What else to watch: Shanghai Express (1932) ■ Blonde Venus (1932) Desire (1936) ■ Destry Rides Again (1939) ■ Cabaret (1972) ■ VISIONARIES 37 IF I WERE YOU I’D MAKE A BIT OF A SCENE PEOPLE ON SUNDAY / 1930 IN CONTEXT GENRE Silent drama DIRECTORS Robert Siodmark, Curt Siodmark WRITERS Curt Siodmark, Robert Siodmark, Edgar G. Ulmer, Billy Wilder STARS Erwin Splettstößer, Annie Schreyer, Wolfgang von Waltershausen, Christl Ehlers, Brigitte Borchert BEFORE 1927 Walther Ruttmann’s silent documentary Berlin: Symphony of a Great City chronicles one day in Berlin to an orchestral score. AFTER 1948 Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief, a key Italian neorealist movie, tells an everyday story shot entirely on location. G erman cinema in the 1920s and 30s was noted for its style and technical expertise. But People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag) is pioneering in a very different way, creating a ﬂuid, freewheeling movie aimed at realism. Filmmakers Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer, then both novices, would later carve out a career in Hollywood making tense thrillers, but People on Sunday is the polar opposite. It is also very different from the later works of its screenwriter Billy Wilder, who developed its documentary style from reportage by Siodmak’s brother Curt, soon to write many of Universal Studios’ horror pictures. A movie experiment The movie’s subtitle was “a ﬁlm without actors.” It follows 24 hours in the lives of ﬁve Berliners, played by nonactors in roles based on their real lives. Wine merchant Wolfgang ﬂirts with movie extra Christl. They arrange to meet in the lake resort of Nikolassee. Later that day Wolfgang visits Erwin, a cabdriver, and his wife Annie, a model. He invites them to the lake, but, after an argument, Erwin leaves Annie behind to join Wolfgang, Christl, and Brigitte, a salesclerk. In retrospect, the artlessness of what happens next in the ﬁlm is truly affecting, given that the movie’s makers would all be forced into exile before the decade was out. There is no cynicism, only the pathos of its characters’ optimistic faith in the often-repeated word “tomorrow.” ■ We’d sit at a nearby table while they’d decide what to do that day. It was completely improvised. Brigitte Borchert What else to watch: The Bicycle Thief (1948, pp.94–97) ■ À bout de soufﬂe (1960, pp.166–67) ■ Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960, pp.168–69) TOMORROW THE BIRDS WILL SING CITY LIGHTS / 1931 40 CITY LIGHTS IN CONTEXT GENRE Silent comedy DIRECTOR Charlie Chaplin WRITER Charlie Chaplin STARS Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Merrill, Harry Myers BEFORE 1921 Chaplin makes his ﬁrst feature movie, The Kid, with 13-year-old Lita Grey, whom he marries three years later. 1925 Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, his ﬁrst blockbuster featuring the Tramp, is a huge success. 1927 The silent era comes to an end with The Jazz Singer, the ﬁrst feature-length movie with full sound dialogue. AFTER 1936 Chaplin makes Modern Times, his last silent feature, a protest against the Great Depression workers’ conditions. C harlie Chaplin’s movie City Lights—which he wrote, directed, and starred in— was one of the last great movies of the silent era, acknowledged by many as one of the best comedies of all time. Although it was released in 1931, four years after the ﬁrst real talkie, The Jazz Singer, Chaplin deﬁantly made City Lights a silent movie with only a few distorted sound effects and a sound track of his own music. Tramp and the Flower Girl The story begins in a large city, where Chaplin’s Tramp is ﬂeeing from a policeman who threatens to arrest him for vagrancy. Escaping by climbing through a car, he meets a poor blind ﬂower girl (played by Virginia Merrill). He buys a ﬂower from her with his last coin, and the girl, hearing the sound of a luxury car door, believes he is a wealthy man. Not judged as a vagrant by this blind girl, the Tramp falls in love with her and wants to be the rich and handsome benefactor she imagines him to be. He determines to rescue her from her life of poverty and when he hears of an operation that will restore her sight, he Charlie Chaplin Director Actor-director Charlie Chaplin was the biggest star of silent movies. Born in London in 1889, he survived a childhood beset by poverty. His alcoholic father abandoned his singer mother, who was later committed to an asylum. These early experiences inspired the character of the outcast Tramp. As a teenager, Chaplin joined a circus troupe and an impresario took him to the US. By age 26, he was a star with his own movie company. He made a string of hit silent movies before his ﬁrst talkie, the anti-Hitler satire The Great Dictator. He died in 1977. Key movies 1921 The Kid 1925 The Gold Rush 1931 City Lights 1936 Modern Times 1940 The Great Dictator The poster for the movie’s original release in 1931 makes full use of the audience’s recognition of Chaplin’s Tramp persona. searches desperately for ways to raise the money to fund it, from sweeping the streets to getting beaten in a prizeﬁght—vehicles for Chaplin’s trademark slapstick, bawdiness, and melodrama. The Tramp also saves a millionaire who is threatening to commit suicide after his wife has left him. In return, the millionaire offers the Tramp $1,000 to help the girl. Unfortunately, the millionaire only sees the Tramp as a friend when he is blind drunk. When the millionaire sobers up, he accuses the Tramp of stealing the money. Going on the run, the Tramp gives the girl the money to pay for the sight operation, but is captured and thrown in jail. A touching encounter Finally, he is released from jail and ﬁnds himself outside the ﬂower shop. In the window, the girl is arranging ﬂowers. She has had the operation and can see. Full of VISIONARIES 41 What else to watch: The Gold Rush (1925) ■ The General (1926) A Patch of Blue (1965) ■ Chaplin (1992) ■ The Artist (2011) kindness for the Tramp, who is now dressed in shabby clothes, the girl picks up the ﬂower that has been knocked from his grasp by street kids, and as their hands touch, she suddenly recognizes him—so very different from the debonair prince she may have imagined. The Tramp looks anxiously into the eyes of the once-blind ﬂower girl and asks, “You can see now?” “Yes,” she replies, “I can see now.” This poignant exchange is one of the most famous dialogues in movie history—all the more telling because it comes from the silent era—and in many ways it is emblematic of the entire movie. It is not just the Tramp that the girl is seeing for the ﬁrst time, but the truth, and the audience must see it too. In the noisy, brightly ﬂashing world of the modern city, the little people, the downtrodden, and the lonely are forgotten and brushed aside. It is only through the purity of silence, simplicity, and blindness that people can regain their senses and learn to see clearly again. Hope of tomorrow The movie has a conservative and sentimental—some might even say mawkish—message, but there’s no doubt that it touched a chord on its release, just two years after the Wall Street Crash. Times were troubled for countless millions, the poor in the US were beginning to feel the pinch of the Great Depression, and suicides ■ Metropolis (1927, pp.32–33) struck both the rich and the poor as the crisis deepened. While the movie offered no recipes for recovery, what it did, cleverly, was to provide a glimmer of hope. After rescuing the millionaire from suicide in the river, the Tramp urges him to be hopeful. “Tomorrow the birds will sing,” he says. No matter how bleak things look today, people must cling to the idea that there may be joy tomorrow—that seems to be the core of the movie’s message. Happy ending? When the ﬂower girl ﬁnally sees the Tramp for who he really is, Chaplin the director does not immediately have them fall into each other’s arms in recognition. We do not know if the ﬂower girl will embrace or reject him because he is so different from the man of her imagination. There is no neat happy ending. While the Tramp’s winsome look elicits pathos, it also restores the movie to a comic level, distancing the audience from the pain of his possible rejection. But as the ﬂower girl looks back at him and viewers see the thoughts turning over behind her eyes and the faintly I’m cured. You’re my friend for life. The millionaire / City Lights ■ Modern Times (1936) ■ ﬂuttering ﬂares of hope, that’s enough. It’s not clear what that hope is—that she will ﬁnd her true happiness with such a bedraggled man, or that they will both walk away, wiser but content. All that matters is that there is hope, the hope inspired by the thought that the birds will sing tomorrow, come what may. ■ The boxing scene, in which the Tramp spends most of his time hiding behind the referee or running from his opponent to avoid combat, shows off Chaplin’s clowning skills. A GOLDEN BLACK AN 1931–1949 AGE IN D WHITE 44 INTRODUCTION In contrast to the more theatrical “talkies,” Fritz Lang’s ﬁrst sound movie, M, uses a complex sound track to build suspense. In Germany, studios fall under the control of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. Major German directors and stars ﬂee to Hollywood. Starting with The 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock makes a series of British thrillers that reﬂect an anxiety about the rise of hostile powers in Europe. MGM’s Technicolor epic Gone with the Wind is an international hit and one of the most proﬁtable movies ever made. 1931 1933 1935 1939 1931 Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein become horror-movie legends. Depression-era theaters introduce “double features”—two fulllength movies for the price of one. 1934 Snow White and Introduced in 1930 by the the Seven Dwarfs, Motion Picture Producers and Walt Disney’s ﬁrst Distributors of America as a guideline for moral decency full-length animated in movies, the Hays Code is movie, becomes an instant classic. now strictly enforced. I n an ordinary Berlin street in 1931, a child is playing. From the shadows nearby, a haunting melody is whistled by a murderer. The talkies had already made their entrance four years earlier, but this, perhaps, is the moment in cinema when the sound era truly begins. The movie was M, a dark thriller by German director Fritz Lang. In that single scene, Lang went far beyond simply adding sound to movies. He was playing with sound, using it. He was making it a character’s signature. Early sound The ﬁrst years of sound were a disruptive time for the industry. Many stars lost their careers when they failed the voice test, and there were times when the 1937 We are not trying to entertain the critics. I’ll take my chances with the public. Walt Disney new technology made the movies so cumbersome to produce that some might have been better left silent. Yet the technical troubles were overcome, new stars emerged, and the magic returned. Even today, there are many for whom 1939 In France, Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game is a critical disaster, but will later be recognized as a brilliant class satire. movies will never again equal those made in the 1930s and 1940s, the height of the classical Hollywood period. It was an era when, for all the trauma of world events—not least the Great Depression and World War II— movies had swagger, conﬁdence, and mass appeal. They were glamorous and escapist. And they made their audiences laugh. While Charlie Chaplin never fully took to sound (Buster Keaton even less so), others were perfect for it. The Marx Brothers’ verbal virtuosity had their audiences in stitches, while the very essence of screwball comedy was the wisecracking one-liner. Monster spectacles While M is a good place to open this new era, classical Hollywood’s symbol could be King Kong (1933). A GOLDEN AGE IN BLACK AND WHITE 45 Citizen Kane, Orson Welles’s ﬁrst movie, is based on the press tycoon William Randolph Hearst, who bans all mention of the movie in his newspapers. Ernst Lubitsch, a refugee from Germany, directs To Be or Not to Be, a movie that lampoons the Nazis, and is said by critics to be in poor taste. 1941 1942 Children of Paradise, a lavish historical drama directed by Marcel Carné, is ﬁlmed in Germanoccupied France. Suspected communists, 10 Hollywood ﬁlmmakers are called before the Committee Investigating Un-American Activities, blacklisted by the studios, and later jailed. 1944 1947 1941 1943 1946 Humphrey Bogart stars in The Maltese Falcon, the archetypal ﬁlm noir, and (the following year) in Casablanca. In Italy, Ossessione, an early neorealist movie by Luchino Visconti, runs afoul of Fascist government censors. The Best Years of Our Lives, by William Wyler, reﬂects the difﬁculties of US servicemen readjusting to civilian life after World War II. This monumental movie spectacular was proof of the studios’ willingness to make movies ever larger in their quest for excitement. Kong joined a monster hall of fame. Universal Studios had already made the iconic horror movies Frankenstein and Dracula (both 1931), The Mummy (1932), and The Invisible Man (1933), all popular entertainments that also exhibited some brilliant ﬁlmmaking. King Kong was big, but it didn’t have a monopoly on scale. By 1939, audiences were being wowed by The Wizard of Oz (its yellow-brick road seen in saturated Technicolor) and roused by Gone With the Wind, an epic romance set against the historical backdrop of the American Civil War. In Europe, however, another war was about to start. By the end of the 1930s the Nazis’ brutal rule had had a major impact on the industry. Scores of directors and actors, among them some of Europe’s most talented, had defected to Hollywood. A postwar edge World War II gave the movies that came after it a new, abrasive edge. Even Britain’s typically sweetcentered Ealing comedies acquired a darker tone when Alec Guinness played multiple roles in the murder story Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). Darker still was writer Graham Greene’s peerless web of intrigue and betrayal in postwar Vienna, The Third Man (1949). In the US, crime drama evolved into a new genre—ﬁlm noir. Its swirl of stylized shadow play borrowed heavily from the German Expressionists of the 1920s, its 1948 The Bicycle Thief by Vittorio De Sica is a neorealist alternative to Hollywood, with a powerful, simple story acted by ordinary people. femmes fatales and world-weary gumshoes becoming some of cinema’s deﬁning ﬁgures. From Italy came a different kind of downbeat. In the Rome of 1948, director Vittorio De Sica used a cast of real people to tell a tale of everyday struggle called The Bicycle Thief. It was the type of movie that lit a fuse in all who saw it. But perhaps the most inﬂuential movie of the era had already been made. An ambitious portrait of a press baron, 1941’s Citizen Kane goes in and out of favor with critics, but its impact was immense. Its cowriter, producer, director, and star, Orson Welles, was 25 when he made it. As it would be again in the next decade, movies had been reshaped by young people too much in love with its possibilities to be hampered by the past. ■ 46 DON’T WANT TO, BUT MUST! M / 1931 IN CONTEXT GENRE Crime drama DIRECTOR Fritz Lang WRITERS Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou STARS Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Gustaf Gründgens BEFORE 1927 Metropolis, Lang’s seminal science-ﬁction epic, is groundbreaking for the scale of its futuristic vision. AFTER 1935 Karl Freund, who was the cinematographer on Metropolis, directs Mad Love, a Hollywood horror starring the by now famous Peter Lorre. 1963 In the last movie he makes, Lang appears in front of the camera, playing himself in Jean-Luc Godard’s Le mépris (Contempt). C lassic old movies as inﬂuential as Fritz Lang’s M—without which there would have been no Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, or Se7en—can be slightly disappointing when viewers ﬁnally come to see them. By then the movies will have been so emulated and borrowed from that they can end up looking somewhat hackneyed. Not so with M—Lang’s crime masterpiece still bristles with chilling invention. The real-life crimes of Peter Kürten, known in the press as the Vampire of Düsseldorf, were fresh in the minds of German audiences when M was released in May 1931. Lang later denied that Kürten was the inspiration for his script. Although he was clearly tapping into a theme that was sitting high in the public consciousness, his portrayal of a murderer was far from predictable. The ﬁrst surprise was in the casting. Little-known Hungarian actor Peter Lorre, a small man with bulging, oddly innocent eyes, seemed an unlikely choice to play a child killer. The next surprise was in the movie’s oblique narrative. While concerned with justice, M is not a simple tale of crime and punishment, and deﬁes expectations from the outset. Shots of absence The movie’s opening murder is set up with a heartbreaking poignancy: as Beckert, who is seen only in silhouette, approaches a young girl at a The movie’s iconic poster displays the “M” (for murderer) that will be imprinted on the killer’s back so that he can be trailed. A GOLDEN AGE IN BLACK AND WHITE 47 What else to watch: Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922, p.330) ■ Metropolis (1927, pp.32–33) ■ Fury (1936) ■ Ministry of Fear (1944) ■ The Beast with Five Fingers (1946) ■ The Big Heat (1953, pp.332–33) ■ While the City Sleeps (1956) The killer Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) stares wide-eyed at his back, as he sees in the mirror that he has been marked with the letter “M.” The tangled mind is exposed… hatred of itself and despair jumping at you from the jelly. Graham Greene their investigations, the citizens plan their own justice. Vigilantism, a common theme in Lang’s later career, becomes a major element of the story. A human monster fairground, the scene cuts to her anxious mother at home, then out of the window, then into the yard. Her calls become desperate over shots of absence: vacant rooms, an empty dinner plate. When the actual murder is committed, Lang shows nothing but the girl’s ball rolling into the grass and a stray balloon ﬂoating away. Beckert, the killer, seen only from behind, writes to the papers, protesting that the police are not publicizing his crimes. Instead of trailing Beckert, however, Lang cuts to the wider repercussions of the girl’s murder. A reward is posted, and as the police pursue Part of the power of M is the way in which Lang effortlessly wrong-foots the viewer. So meek is the monster at the heart of the story, when his face is ﬁnally revealed, that the audience is thrown off guard, put into his shoes and made to feel his fear. Lang then expertly cranks up the tension, with the killer unwittingly marked with a chalk letter “M,” for Mörder (murderer), and Beckert’s distress increasing as the chase gathers momentum. M was Lang’s ﬁrst “talkie,” and he makes incredible use of sound, and silence. The director subtly creates tension in the killer’s very ﬁrst entrance: as he is about to strike, Beckert whistles a familiar tune—to unsettling effect. Lang uses sound to different but equally Fritz Lang Director Born in Vienna in 1890, Fritz Lang made his directorial debut at the German UFA studios with Halbblut (The Weakling) in 1919, about a man ruined by his love for a woman—a recurrent theme in his movies. After a series of hits, including science-ﬁction classic Metropolis, Lang made his masterpiece with M. Impressed by his talent, the Nazis asked Lang to head the UFA studio in 1933. Instead, he ﬂed to the US, where he forged a highly successful career. He died in 1976. Key movies 1922 Dr. Mabuse the Gambler 1927 Metropolis 1931 M 1953 The Big Heat disturbing ends when Beckert is on the run, when the noise of ﬁreengine sirens and trafﬁc create a disorienting cacophony. Final judgment M keeps nudging the audience off balance to the end. The movie’s tension comes not only from the relentless ticktock of the narrative, but also from the question that Lang asks the audience: what kind of justice it wants to see for the killer. It’s a sophisticated approach even now, let alone for an audience that would still have been acclimatizing to Lang’s innovations with sound and subject matter. Lang himself—in a long career ﬁlled with truly great movies— always insisted that M was the ﬁnest of them all. ■ 48 WILL YOU MARRY ME? DID HE LEAVE YOU ANY MONEY? ANSWER THE SECOND QUESTION FIRST DUCK SOUP / 1933 IN CONTEXT GENRE Musical comedy DIRECTOR Leo McCarey WRITERS Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, Arthur Sheekman, Nat Perrin STARS Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx, Zeppo Marx, Margaret Dumont BEFORE 1921 The Marx Brothers’ ﬁrst movie, a short, Humor Risk, is made. It is now believed lost. 1929 The ﬁrst full-length movie to star them, The Cocoanuts, is a musical comedy. L ike so many movies now regarded as classics, the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup received a mixed reception from critics when it opened in 1933. Now it’s seen for what it is: a sharp, anarchic, and above all hilarious political satire (even if the brothers themselves denied doing anything but trying to be funny). The movie is a riot of the brothers’ trademark puns and visual gags, including the famous mirror scene, in which, after breaking a mirror, Harpo mimics Groucho’s every move to avoid detection. Absurd plot From the left, Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo Marx were real-life brothers, who honed their comic personas in vaudeville theater. neighboring Sylvania. With Chico and Harpo working as Trentino’s spies, war breaks out between the two countries, leading to some of the most bizarre battle scenes in cinema history. Amid the madcap encounters, Groucho veers between ﬂirts, insults, and some of his ﬁnest ever quips: “If you can’t get a taxi, you can leave in a huff.” If that’s too soon you can leave in a minute and a huff.” ■ AFTER 1935 A Night at the Opera, the ﬁrst Marx Brothers’ movie not to feature Zeppo, is a hit. Groucho plays Rufus T. Fireﬂy, invited for reasons that never become clear to become dictator of Fredonia by the wealthy Mrs. Teasdale, played by the brothers’ regular straight woman, Margaret Dumont. Fireﬂy only wants Mrs. Teasdale for her money. But he has a rival, Trentino, ambassador to 1937 The Marx Brothers’ seventh movie, A Day at the Races, is their biggest hit. What else to watch: Animal Crackers (1930) ■ Monkey Business (1931) A Night at the Opera (1935) ■ A Day at the Races (1937) ■ A GOLDEN AGE IN BLACK AND WHITE 49 DON’T BE ALARMED LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THOSE CHAINS ARE MADE OF CHROME STEEL KING KONG / 1933 IN CONTEXT GENRE Monster movie DIRECTORS Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack WRITERS James Ashmore Creelman, Ruth Rose, Edgar Wallace STARS Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot BEFORE 1925 An adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, The Lost World features humans battling with dinosaurs. AFTER 1949 Cooper and Schoedsack team up for another adventure featuring a giant ape with Mighty Joe Young. 1963 Inspired by King Kong, animator Ray Harryhausen works on stop-motion classic Jason and the Argonauts. K ing Kong was probably the ﬁrst true special-effects blockbuster. It is the simple story of a huge ape discovered on an uncharted island, which he shares with other giant creatures, including dinosaurs. The ape Kong is captured and brought to New York for people to stare at, only for him to break free from his chains and go on a rampage. The stop-motion effects look creaky today. Yet such is the power of the storytelling that it can move the viewer in a way that is beyond many slicker modern movies. The movie is full of iconic scenes, including a memorable climax in which Kong bats away a biplane as he clings to the top of the Empire State Building. The movie’s secret was to portray the ape sympathetically. Kong is protective of his female captive, and only attacks when provoked. Kong’s tormentor, Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong), who exhibits Kong as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” is the movie’s villain. And when Kong ﬁnally tumbles from the skyscraper, it is a moment of tragedy—the audience is on his side. ■ Ann (Fay Wray) is terriﬁed of Kong at ﬁrst, but later tries to save him. In New York, he escapes to look for her, leading his captor Denham to say, “It was beauty killed the beast.” What else to watch: The Lost World (1925) ■ Mighty Joe Young (1949) Clash of the Titans (1981) ■ Jurassic Park (1993) ■ King Kong (2005) ■ 50 WAR IS DECLARED! DOWN WITH MONITORS AND PUNISHMENT! ZERO DE CONDUITE / 1933 IN CONTEXT GENRE Surrealist comedy DIRECTOR Jean Vigo WRITER Jean Vigo STARS Jean Dasté, Louis Lefebvre, Coco Golstein BEFORE 1924 René Clair’s Surrealist short, Entr’acte, plays with the frame rate to produce a spooky slow-motion effect. J ean Vigo’s 41-minute Zero de Conduite (Zero for Conduct) caused both outrage and delight when it premiered in Paris in April 1933. But although its anarchic spirit was deplored by the Establishment (it was banned by the French Ministry of the Interior until 1946), with hindsight the movie isn’t really all that political, at least not in the way that the authorities ﬁrst perceived it. 1929 Director Luis Buñuel teams up with artist Salvador Dalí to make the Surrealist movie Un Chien Andalou. AFTER 1934 Vigo’s only full-length movie, L’Atalante, tells the poetic story of a newly married couple living on a barge. 1968 Lindsay Anderson’s If… depicts a rebellion in a British public school. One of the most poetic ﬁlms ever made, and one of the most inﬂuential. Pauline Kael On its release, Zero de Conduite provoked strong reactions against its irreverence for conventional sensibilities. It was banned in France until 1946. Zero de Conduite is perhaps best seen in the context of French Surrealist cinema, following in the tradition of René Clair and Luis Buñuel, who threw narrative sense out the window, juxtaposed random images, and often morphed into strange scenarios with bizarre dialogue. These were serious works of art, aiming to explore the subconscious, yet also simply irreverent. A child’s-eye view The movie was funded by a private patron, who paid Vigo to create a story based on his childhood experiences of boarding school. This was not to be a nostalgic trip down memory lane for the director, but an attempt to recreate the state of being a child. Some of the movie’s rough A GOLDEN AGE IN BLACK AND WHITE 51 See also: Entr’acte (1924) ■ Un Chien Andalou (1929, pp.330–31) ■ À propos de Nice (1930) ■ L’Age d’Or (1930) Jean Taris, Swimming Champion (1931) ■ L’Atalante (1934) ■ The 400 Blows (1959, pp.150–55) ■ If… (1968) ■ The boys’ revolution against the school’s stuffed-shirt authorities takes the form of an anarchic pillow ﬁght—for Vigo, the essence of the spirit of childhood. edges can be attributed to Vigo’s inexperience as a director, but there are many deliberately eccentric ﬂourishes—such as a cartoon sketch that suddenly comes to life. Diving straight in The beginning of the movie dispenses with any sense of buildup—a simple title card reads, “After the holidays, back to school.” A boy, Causset (Louis Lefebvre), on a train with only a sleeping adult for company, welcomes his old friend Bruel (Coco Golstein) as they prepare to return to the boredom of boarding school. The journey is ﬁlled with a sense of freedom, curtailed when they arrive at the station, to be confronted by an aloof prefect, played by an adult. In the battle to control the boys, the prefect is revealed as a spy who steals their things. The housemaster (Delphin), a tiny, ridiculous-looking man with a bushy beard, is also pitted against them. On the boys’ side is the young teacher Huguet (Jean Dasté), who indulges his charges with impersonations of Charlie Chaplin and plays soccer with them. In one especially odd sequence, he takes them all with him as he follows a young woman who has caught his eye. The boys themselves are all serial offenders who seem to spend every Sunday in detention (hence the “zero marks for conduct” implied by the movie’s title). Throughout the movie, they plot their revenge, but when it comes, the revolution starts not with a grand dramatic gesture but with a long pillow ﬁght. Taking to the school’s rooftop, they hurl objects down at the school board, a row of mannequins lined up for the annual “commemoration day” celebration. The joy of Vigo’s movie is that the boys don’t really try to beat the system—they want to rise above it, as gallant rebels driven by the irrepressible spirit of childhood. Vigo did not live to see his movie achieve recognition, but his legacy went on to inform the works of directors including François Truffaut and Lindsay Anderson. ■ Jean Vigo Director Jean Vigo was born in 1905, the son of an anarchist. His father spent most of his life on the run and was murdered in prison when Jean was 12, but he cast a long shadow over the director’s short but inﬂuential career. After a series of shorts, Vigo made his lone feature, L’Atalante, in 1934. Although initially cut to ribbons by distributors, the movie’s poetry found favor in the 1940s, going on to inspire the founders of the French New Wave. An ill man throughout his life, Vigo died of tuberculosis at just 29. As his work gained fame in France, the Prix Jean Vigo was set up in 1951 for ﬁrst-time directors. Key movies 1930 À propos de Nice 1933 Zero de Conduite 1934 L’Atalante 52 TO A NEW WORLD OF GODS AND MONSTERS! THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN / 1935 IN CONTEXT GENRE Horror DIRECTOR James Whale WRITERS William Hurlbut, John L. Balderston (screenplay); Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (novel) STARS Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Elsa Lanchester BEFORE 1931 James Whale adapts Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Karloff stars as the monster. 1933 Whale ﬁlms H. G. Wells’s story The Invisible Man, about a scientist who ﬁnds a way to become invisible. AFTER 1936 Whale moves away from the horror genre, directing a musical adaptation of the play Show Boat. T hrough the 1930s, Universal Studios made a string of hits adapting classic horror literature into mainstream movies. What separates James Whale’s Frankenstein movies from the other horror movies in the universal canon is its empathy for its monster. This is never more apparent than in The Bride of Frankenstein, in which the monster implores Dr. Frankenstein to build him a mate. life, only for armed villagers to drag him away. He learns to speak, saying, “I want friend like me,” but even Dr. Frankenstein’s efforts to provide him with a bride backﬁre, when the bride also rejects him. In the end, The Bride of Frankenstein feels as much a morality tale as a horror movie, suggesting that monstrousness might be no more than skin deep. ■ Morality tale Much of the movie’s narrative presents Frankenstein’s monster as lost in a world to which he does not belong. He longs for friendship, but is rejected at every turn. At one point, a blind man introduces him to the pleasures of domestic An excited monster (Boris Karloff) steadies his bride (Elsa Lanchester) as she comes to life in Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory. What else to watch: Metropolis (1927, pp.32–33) ■ Frankenstein (1931) Dracula (1931) ■ The Mummy (1932) ■ Gods and Monsters (1998) ■ A GOLDEN AGE IN BLACK AND WHITE 53 MAGIC MIRROR ON THE WALL WHO IS THE FAIREST ONE OF ALL? SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS / 1937 © 1937 Disney IN CONTEXT GENRE Animation, musical DIRECTOR David Hand WRITERS Ted Sears, Richard Creedon, Otto Englander, Dick Rickard, Earl Hurd, Merrill De Maris, Dorothy Ann Blank, Webb Smith (screenplay); Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm (fairy tale) STARS Adriana Caselotti, Lucille La Verne, Moroni Olsen BEFORE 1928 Disney releases the Mickey Mouse short Steamboat Willie, its ﬁrst sound cartoon. AFTER 1950 Disney revisits Grimms’ fairy tales with Cinderella. 2013 Disney’s Frozen, loosely inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, is an enormous hit. R eleased in 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the ﬁrst fulllength movie made by the Walt Disney Company. Disney sought to combine the slapstick tone of its successful short movies with an injection of the macabre by turning to one of the Grimm Brothers’ most famous fairy tales, the story of an evil queen hunting an innocent girl who is declared “the fairest of all” by a magic mirror. This set the template for Disney movies for the next 80 years, from Cinderella to Frozen. Adding jeopardy One of the challenges for ﬁlmmakers making children’s movies is to keep the material appropriate for the audience, while at the same time investing it with enough jeopardy to create tension. Snow White deliberately terriﬁes its young viewers, from the sequence where Snow White panics in the woods as the trees come alive, to the scenes in which the malevolent Queen gleefully plots the girl’s death. By the time the prince awakens the heroine with a kiss, evil has been vanquished, and fear conquered. Disney realized that, without the authenticity of conﬂict, the happy resolution at the end would never be heartfelt. ■ Snow White hides from the wicked Queen in the dwarfs’ home. She cooks and cleans for them, and also makes them wash their hands. © 1937 Disney What else to watch: Fantasia (1940) ■ Pinocchio (1940) ■ Dumbo (1941) Cinderella (1950) ■ Beauty and the Beast (1991) ■ Frozen (2013) ■ I’VE A FEELING WE’RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE THE WIZARD OF OZ / 1939 56 THE WIZARD OF OZ P lenty of big movies from the classical Hollywood period have faded into obscurity. Other movies remain respected by the critics, but modern audiences struggle to connect with them. Then there are movies like Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz, which not only stands the test of time, but continues to entertain. The movie is discovered and embraced by each new generation as passionately as the previous one, and the story has crossed over into a global cultural consciousness. Even if they have never seen the movie, people can sing along to “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” and will understand the reference when someone taps their shoes and says “There’s no place like home.” The Wizard of Oz is now more than 70 years old, but it remains a key picture in the making of modern cinema. IN CONTEXT GENRE Musical, adventure DIRECTOR Victor Fleming WRITERS Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf (screenplay); L. Frank Baum (novel) STARS Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Margaret Hamilton BEFORE 1938 Judy Garland stars alongside Mickey Rooney in Love Finds Andy Hardy. AFTER 1939 A few months after The Wizard of Oz, Fleming’s Gone with the Wind is released. 1954 Garland stars opposite James Mason in hit musical A Star Is Born, her ﬁrst movie in four troubled years. A magniﬁcent spectacle The movie’s story sees Dorothy (played by the 17-year-old Judy Garland), a young girl growing up on a Kansas farm, caught in the eye of an impressively rendered twister and magically transported to the Land of Oz. Here, along with a ragtag trio of misﬁts— I would watch the movie every day when I was two. I had a hard time understanding that I couldn’t go into the ﬁlm, because it felt so real to me. Zooey Deschanel in the documentary ﬁlm These Amazing Shadows, 2011 a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion—she must travel along the Yellow Brick Road, while avoiding the attentions of the Wicked Witch of the West. Her destination is the Emerald City, where the mysterious Wizard of Oz himself resides. The story is probably familiar, but what really sets apart The Wizard of Oz is not so much the “what” as the “how”. It is a movie in service of spectacle, a movie that sets out to test the limits of the newly born medium of cinema in every frame. Minute by minute 00:11 00:19 00:58 01:21 Dorothy runs away from home in Kansas to save her dog Toto from an ofﬁcious neighbor, Miss Gulch. Professor Marvel, a fortuneteller, persuades her to return. The house crashes in Oz, killing the Wicked Witch of the East. The Munchkins celebrate. The Wicked Witch of the West swears revenge. The friends arrive at the Emerald City, where the Wizard agrees to grant their wishes if they bring him the Wicked Witch’s broom. Toto leads the friends to the Castle where they are trapped by the Witch. She sets ﬁre to the Scarecrow. Dorothy throws water, and in doing so melts the Witch. 00:00 00:15 00:17 A mighty twister develops, lifting Dorothy’s farmhouse into a spin. Miss Gulch on her bicycle is transformed into a witch on a broomstick. 00:30 00:45 00:34 Dorothy befriends the Scarecrow on the Yellow Brick Road, followed soon after by the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion. 01:00 01:14 In her crystal ball, the Witch watches the friends enter the Haunted Forest. She sends ﬂying monkeys to capture Dorothy. 01:42 01:15 01:28 Toto exposes the Wizard as a sham. The Good Witch tells Dorothy she can return home by tapping her ruby slippers together. A GOLDEN AGE IN BLACK AND WHITE 57 What else to watch: Pinocchio (1940) Spirited Away (2001, pp.296–97) When Dorothy arrives in Oz, viewers see her open her eyes in faded, sepia-toned black and white, the frame crackling with the technical imperfections of the time. But as she opens the door and steps outside, they glimpse Oz and are overwhelmed with Technicolor. In 1939, when it was released, this would have been the very ﬁrst time many audience members had seen a color movie. As the scene plays out, the director Victor Fleming is fully aware of this f